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Showing posts from November, 2014

Christmas feeling in Växjö

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Over in Sweden to visit our son and do some Christmas shopping. Came just as the Black Friday sales are on, so discounts everywhere. Weather nice, cold and fresh. Today we have been walking around the centre where there is a Christmas market. We visited this beautiful ecological shop as well, see photos below.

Wide Sargasso Sea by Jean Rhys

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This is the first book in my second 'line' choice of 'Connective Reading'. This is the book that tells the story about the 'mad woman in the attic' in Charlotte Brontë's Jane Eyre. Jean Rhys was born in Dominica and came to England when she was sixteen. She tried a lot of professions before she started writing. She was one of the artists in Paris in the 1920s and Ford Madox Ford helped her publish her first stories. She had not published anything since 1939 when she made this remarkable come back in 1966. It saw her win the Royal Society of Literature Award and the W.H. Smith Award. She was made a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature in 1966 and a CBE in 1978. She died in 1979, at the age of eighty-four. Having had a background in Dominica, Jean Rhys was really suitable to write about Rochester's first wife who was born there. We don't get to know too much about her in Charlotte Brontë's book, just the tantalising information that Roch

Odessa - Genius and Death in a City of Dreams by Charles King

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This is a book I have read, connected from The Hare With the Amber Eyes. To try to lower the Wide Sargasso Sea by Jean Rhys. number of TBR books, the 'connected reading' will have to come from these shelves or from the library. I am in the process of creating a separate page, for this my very own challenge. I will use two different 'lanes' of books to connect. First one is the one above and the second one is The Hare with the Amber Eyes  connection: this book is about the Ephrussi family who originated in Odessa. There were many connections to pursue from this book, but since I have a book about Odessa it was a natural choice. Mark Twain felt supremely at home when he visited Odessa in the late summer of 1867. He had come to the Russian port city on the world's first long-distance pleasure cruise, a jaunt across the Near East related in The Innocents Abroad. After a twenty-hour run across the Black Sea on the american steamer Quaker City , Twain stepped ashor

Sunday bliss - From E-book to E-bike

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Me with the E-bike! Another lovely autumn day that has to be used. Yesterday we passed by the bike shop to pick up my bike that has been serviced. Once inside the shop we found this wonderful e-bike and my husband, Martin, insisted that I should try it. He has been trying for some time, to convince me that an e-bike is something for me. I have resisted, but once I tried it, I only needed about two minutes to realise that this was an absolutely fantastic bike. I did not need to much convincing that this would be a wonderful Christmas present. Since it is too big to put under the tree, we decided to buy it right away. In this way I could benefit from the lovely autumn and still use it.  So already today we ventured out. Martin had to use one of the two bikes we just had in for service. Just ordinary bikes since I am not much for these modern bikes! Hmm, seems it is not entirely true. But...I am absolutely in love with this e-bike and can see myself improving on my physical conditi

Brussels and its history (part IV)

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So finally I managed to finish walk No.2 from Derek’s book Brussels for Pleasure . It covered the Sainte Catherine district in the southern part of Brussels, where once there was a harbour. The harbour was covered years ago and it is difficult to even imagine how it was then. I started the tour at the square ‘Quai aux Briques’ and took the first right turn to enter into the square Sainte Catherine. Continuing along the square it continues into a beautiful street with benches and trees in the middle, almost like a square. There we can look at the first house of interest, an Art Deco building constructed in 1928 by a firm importing exotic fruit. When we look up to the top of the house we see decorations suitable for such a firm; pictures of orange and banana trees. Next fantastic building is on Rue de Flandre. This is a so called ‘hidden gem’. The real house lies hidden inside in the court yard. Today the building is a theatre and art

The Pleasure of Reading

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Today I visited the library in Overijse for the first time. I wanted to check whether they had any books in English. And...yes, they did. Also in French, Spanish, Italian and German. The choice was quite interesting with a mixture of new, old and classics. There are many books there that I can borrow. I started with two books by Jean Rhys; Wide Sargasso Sea  about the 'mad woman in the attic' in Jane Eyre. This is the story about her life in Jamaica before and after meeting Mr Rochester. The other book is Voyage in the Dark . I don't know so much about this book but it sounds interesting. A brief liaison with a kindly but unimaginative man leads Anna to abandon the theatre and drift into the demi-monde of 1914 London: red-plush dinners in private rooms 'up West'; ragtime, champagne and whisky back at the flat; these, and a discreet tinkle of sovereigns in the small hours pave the way to disaster...

The Hare with the Amber Eyes - A Hidden Inheritance by Edmund de Waal

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Beautiful cover. This is the first page and... This is a book I have heard of for quite some time. It was the title that first caught my attention, it sounded so mysteriously in a way. And that is what this book is about. A mystery. A quest for finding out the story of a family, an international family that was scattered all over Europe. Furthermore, recently several bloggers have mentioned this book, so, when I went into Waterstones last week and this book looked at me from the shelves, there was no way back. I just had to have it...NOW! In spite of the fact that my own shelves are wearing down with books I have not yet read. I can only say that it was an excellent choice. I did not realise though that it was a biography. That makes it even more fantastic. Edmund de Waal, a renowned ceramic artists, sets out to find out the history of his family when he inherits 264 netsuke figures from his great uncle. How did they come into the family? How did they travel within the family? H

Dark Quartet: The Story of the Brontës by Lynne Reid Banks

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As a fan of the Brontë sisters I take every opportunity to read something about their lives. It does not matter that you already know most things, each writer always has something to add to the whole story. This book is a biographical or historical fiction of the four Brontë siblings. I love historical fiction so looked forward reading this. However, it is difficult to write biographical fiction about such loved characters as the Brontës. All the fans have their own view on how they were and how they lived. Lynne Reid Banks book is a master piece in this sense. I must admit that I had some difficulties getting into the book and the first part, the very start of the story, did not appeal to me. I found the writing a mixture between non-fiction and fiction. However, that changed rather quickly. The more I got into the book, the more I was amazed how well she describes the siblings, as well as other characters connected to them. She has created their characters from what is known of

Presence and the Art of Stillness

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Today is a quiet Sunday morning, rather warm for the season, I even heard some birds singing. It is all quiet everywhere, which gives you a feeling of being alone. I went out in the garden to try to capture some late autumn colours. They are there because the autumn so far has been very mild. Here are a few flowers that lights up the day. I have seen that some of you out there already have got snow. It looks really lovely, but I appreciate not to have to shovel snow from the drive way! On brain pickings   I found a wonderful article on What Leonard Cohen Teaches Us about Presence and the Art of Stillness.  Novelist and essayist Pico Iyer, the author of The Art of Stillness: Adventures in Going Nowhere , have interviewed singer-songwriter Leonard Cohen, who in 1994 moved to the Mt. Baldy Zen Center to embark on five years of seclusion. Midway through Cohen was ordained as a Rinzai Zen Buddist monk and given the Dharma name Jikan-Pali for "silence".  Iyer writes: "

Autumn is here!

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We have had a lovely autumn or more like an Indian summer extending well into November. However, now the leaves are very yellow and orange and are falling off the trees. This is how it looked yesterday when I took a walk in the rain! This is how autumn is described in Wikipedia: Autumn, interchangeably known as fall in North America, is one of the four temperate seasons. Autumn marks the transition from summer into winter, in September (Northern Hemisphere) or March (Southern Hemisphere), when the arrival of night becomes noticeably earlier and the temperature cools considerably. One of its main features is the shedding of leaves from deciduous trees. What does autumn remind me of when it comes to books and films? The first to come into my mind is the wonderful film Legends of the Fall  with Anthony Hopkins and Brad Pitt, based on the book with the same name by Jim Harrison. I have not read the book but seen the films several times. Another film is the Autumn Sonata  by Ingmar

New purchases and the discovery of a new second hand book shop

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Today it was a lovely, sunny day, with blue skies and trees or tremendous colours. One of these very nice autumn days. They are very rare here in Brussels where the autumn is mostly connected with heavy clouds and rain. Not this year though. I went down town to Brussels today to finish of my walk No. 2. It took me to the St Catherine area of Brussels.  A post about this will appear shortly. However, I couldn't believe my luck when I stumbled on a fantastic second hand books shop. Just have a look here:  I just wanted to look since I did not want to carry around more books than I already had in my ruck sac, but guess what? I couldn't resist a book which I wanted to read a long time. Furthermore, it had some guidance for studies on this book, which I thought I very much needed. It is Stendhal's The Red and the Black.  For 5 € it was a bargain. After my walk I went to my favourite Döner Kebab place and had my usual durum pita, sans pommes frites et sauce picante! Good as

Els Calderers - a flair of times passed by

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Els Calderers We have been to Mallorca regularly for about 12 years. Still, after all this time, we find places, houses, restaurants, beaches and much more where we never visited. This time we made an excursion to Els Calderers. It has been on my list to do for a long time. It is a manor house that has been in the same family for many years. The present building is in the style from around 1750. The family has now opened the house as a museum and for that we can only be grateful. The office (I am envious of course!) It was once one of the largest wine estates in Mallorca. As so many other wine farmers in Europe they were caught up by the wine louse, phylloxera, which came from the United States some time around 1860. The vine had to be taken away and it was replaced by more traditional farming. The inner yard in autumn colours The tour around the house is lovely and you are transported back in time (even if this is not the Outlander ). The furniture and the traditiona

Excursion in Mallorca

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I am in Mallorca this week. We had a friend come to visit so we did a nice walk and some nice restaurants. Now it is time for some serious stuff. We decided to go north-east to do some trekking. Unfortunately, we choose a day which was sunny where we are in the south west to go north east. There the clouds we getting very dark, thunder in the distance and when we were ready to go for our walk the rain started to come. We saw a wonderful rainbow though. Looking where the sun was we decided to continue eastwards. It seemed that once we reached the places it was getting darker too. However, we started on our tour over the mountains (hills my husband would say who is Austrian). Once on top of the first one, with a heavy wind, which you can see on the picture below, it started to rain. Just to go back again. We decided to take a break in a nearby restaurant. Some tapas helped us gather new energy, and once they were done, the weather improved. I could see the tower we wanted to visit

Classic Spin #8

On November 10 there will be another classic spin . Here is my list of 20 of which I will read the one number that is chosen. 1. Emma by Jane Austen 2. The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins 3. David Copperfield by Charles Dickens 4. The Mill on the Floss by George Eliot 5. Light in August by William Faulkner 6. My Childhood by Maxim Gorky 7. Buddenbrooks by Thomas Mann 8. A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man by James Joyce 9. Women in Love by D.H. Lawrence 10. Gulliver's Travels by Jonathan Swift 11. Ben Hur by Lew Wallace 12. A Streetcar Named Desire by Tennessee Williams 13. Richard III by William Shakespeare 14. Travels With My Aunt by Graham Green 15. The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck 16. The Overcoat and Other Stories by Nikolaj Gogol 17. Vile Bodies by Evelyn Waughn 18. Sweet Bird of Youth by Tennessee Williams 19. The Taming of a Screw by William Shakespeare 20. Mansfield Park by Jane Austen I am happy to say that I have read 3 of the 50 books I

The Angelic Avengers by Isak Dinesen (Karen Blixen)

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My TBR shelves have hosted this book for about 20 years I think. That is when it was printed and it makes sense that it was then I bought it. I had already started it, if I judge from the book mark still in it. However, I only had vague remembrance of the book, so I started afresh. Like with a lot of other books from these shelves, I am wondering why I have kept it there for so long. It is a lovely book, but not a ‘thundering’ read, if you know what I mean. The story evolves slowly, slowly, but somehow there is always a new hint of something to come. The language is beautiful, calm, almost fragile in its prose. Not to reveal too much here is a summary of the start. Lucan is alone in the world and has got a position as a governess with a wealthy widow. He makes her an offer that she can refuse and she runs away in the middle of the night. She is heading to her school friend Zosine which she has not met since school. Arriving at her mansion on the day of her birthday ball she is w